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SBC DIGEST: Former TBC director James Porch dies; Fisher named MBTS alumnus of the year

James Porch, former TBC executive director-treasurer, dies at 81

By Lonnie Wilkey/Baptist and Reflector

NASHVILLE (BP) — James Porch, who served as executive director of the Executive Board of the Tennessee Baptist Convention (now Tennessee Baptist Mission Board) for 18 years (1992-2010) died Aug. 3 at the age of 81.

A native of Pelahatchie, Miss., Porch was elected to succeed D.L. Lowrie as executive director in September of 1992. He came to the position from the pastorate of First Baptist Church, Tullahoma, where he had served since 1977. 

Porch was known for his strong support of the Cooperative Program. When he retired in 2010, he noted in an interview with the Baptist and Reflector that he made it clear at the beginning of his tenure that the Tennessee Baptist Convention would only support the Cooperative Program. When he was elected, there was turmoil in the Southern Baptist Convention and some state conventions offered multiple giving options and some even formed other state conventions.

At his retirement, Porch said, “One of the things I take great joy in is that there is only one Tennessee Baptist Convention today,” he said.

He also is known for coining the phrase “One Servant Family” within a few years after becoming executive director. The phrase became the driving force behind all the ministries offered by the Executive Board through his retirement.

“My appreciation for Dr. Porch has grown deeper and deeper the longer I have served as his successor,” said Randy C. Davis, president and executive director of the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board.

“Dr. Porch served during some very tumultuous days in TBC and SBC life. But at the end of the day, under his leadership, our network of churches remained together,” Davis said.

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Fisher named MBTS alumnus of the year

By Brett Fredenberg

KANSAS CITY (BP) — Todd Fisher was born again to preach in Oklahoma.

Growing up near Fort Worth, Texas though, he had never considered the Sooner State, the state he’s now ministered in for over 30 years, as a potential place to call home.

Leaving Texas to pursue pastoral ministry was not an option- or at least, not from a young age.

Fisher did not grow up in the church. Raised primarily by his mother, a hard-working public-school teacher, Fisher’s childhood passion was sports. That is, until he was 14 years old, and a close friend shared the gospel with him. At that point, everything changed.

Fisher believed in Christ, was baptized, and immediately became involved with the youth group at North Fort Worth Baptist Church. Jesus was all Fisher could think about.

Two years later, God called Fisher to ministry.

“I had a lot of people in my life saying, ‘I think God is calling you to ministry.’ And the internal desire was just as strong as the external affirmation I was receiving. So, at 16 years old, I surrendered to the call to ministry. And at 18 years old, I knew that God wanted me to pastor.”

With confidence in his call, Fisher knew he needed ministry training.

He did not know the many obstacles and challenges still before him.

While considering how best to prepare for this new calling, Fisher was met with subtle, yet clear opposition.

“There were adults in my life at that time that told me, ‘When you go to college, don’t major in religion. If the ministry doesn’t work out, a different degree will allow you to have something to fall back on.’”

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